The second Thurrock Leaders Network Day was held on 26 May 2011 at Chafford Hundred Community Church offices.
There was an opening time of worship and prayer.
Bob Love read out the word given on 21.11.06 by Andy Acreman (TCF) that has been quoted on the Transformation Thurrock website in two recent articles:
“From a valley of bones, dried in the sun,
To an army of warriors, in a war that is won…
From a desert of despair to a lush valley of pools and springs…
From isolated fortresses of precious traditions
To an open-handed unity of glorious hope…
I am changing my church, says the Builder and Architect;
I am again breathing life into my Beloved, says the Lord, her Lover;
And though you are dry and your walls are broken down –
I am already rebuilding, watering, blessing, uniting.
Church of Thurrock, the door is again open to revival,
To an awakening of the people, to miracles and healings.
And thousands upon thousands will visit you,
To know this blessing for themselves –
And to seek The Source.
I will restore the Holy City to greatness
And my glorious presence will be found within.
So, son, daughter, seek me, wait on me, obey me,
And pray in faith-filled expectation of the Day of My Power!”
Bob then expanded upon his word at the Grays Leaders’ Prayer a few weeks ago about concerning the identification of ministry gifts coming out of our deepening relational unity (Ephesians 4:1-16 – see below).
Referencing 1 Corinthians 3:5-7, Bob told us the ‘parable of the tomato plant’ – that to grow, it needs a support framework on which to cling, flourish and bear fruit.
What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
“God wants growth,” he said, and a necessary process in creating the right conditions for healthy growth is the pulling out of that which doesn’t grow.
Regarding the five fold ministry gifts of Ephesians 4:11, Bob explained that, “God has given gifts for the benefit of and the means by which the Body of Christ can bring renewal and transformation to the church of Thurrock”, and made reference to the prophetic word again.
“God’s in the growing business and is drawing us together for a bigger purpose,” continued Bob. “We’re fit for purpose, but what does that mean? That’s why we need to recognise the gifts God’s given each one of us.”
Bob agreed with something that had been mentioned earlier, that the QE2 Bridge is not a bottleneck but a gateway (for God’s glory to enter Thurrock, and also to go out from Thurrock). He said this because, “God’s not just about saving people but transforming the borough.” Bob used the image of a dam, which channels water and puts it to good use in a controlled fashion. He also urged us not to be afraid of making mistakes, saying, “Discover your ministries and take responsibility.”
Andy Blakey referred to the historic fact that the Grays area was once known as the ‘Holy City’ because of the amount of Christians living there and church buildings. The was a road of big houses each of which were owned by believers. The local economy was heavily influenced by believers. “The tide is turning,” he said.
Russell Godward resonated strongly with Bob’s thoughts and encouragement feeling that we have been moving towards this for a while now. Said he’s interested in the “business of the kingdom rather than the management of the church.” He talked about the signs on the QE2 Bridge and how enormous they are – pointing to Thurrock, the ‘Holy City’. It is definitely time to explore what this means and we should go for it!
David Bareham disagreed with those who were saying that things come round in cycles and that we’ve been here before if you have a long enough memory. He said that he thought this was a specific one-off wave that was rolling in and that there may be other waves behind but we need to be ready for what was going on. We need to be ready and willing to identify those with gifts for the church in Thurrock and release them to it.
Rob Groves made the comparison between George Whitfield and John Wesley. Whitfield was “by far the better preacher, but he described his message as a ‘rope of sand’ – people grasped it, but it fell through their hands.” Whereas Wesley’s “genius of organisation” was to back up his message with a ‘keeping’ strategy that enabled people to live out their newly acquired faith. Rock Thurrock is attempting to do just that.
Bob pointed to Rock Thurrock, Transformation Thurrock, plans to tender for local youth services, Alpha, Faithworks, and the possibility of a boroughwide celebration or festival connecting in with GDOP, Pentecost and London 2012, as being evidence that, “all we’re doing is bigger than ourselves.” He suggested that buildings and money be “released into the bigger picture.”
Russell emphasised his personal belief that whatever we do as a group of leaders working together in unity should “champion the cause of the local church” and said he didn’t “get the unity agenda which often expresses the thought that it is only the things we do ‘together’ that really matter. We need to see the essential diverse expressions of our local churches balanced and held together by our relational unity and cooperation as leaders”.
Rob then suggested an exercise to help us (a) identify our ministry gifts and (b) where in the borough they are geographically based.
This we did by splitting down into two groups of four and one group of three.
Rob entered the resulting information on a diagram with east, west and south areas.
- What is the vision of an apostolic network of churches?
- What does the Body look like?
- What is the BIG DREAM?
- To have an ‘expression of Kingdom’ in ‘every area’ of the borough
- What is an ‘expression of Kingdom’?
- What do we mean by ‘every area’?
- Every area = not only the geographic but also the social, cultural and civil networks of Thurrock
John Freeman (in his own words)
John had been contemplating the diagram.
I was asking God what does all this mean and was believing that there was something significant in the way all of the writing has been placed in a particular order and in specific positions on the diagram that Rob had created. The West East and South simply said cover the whole of Thurrock – this is the flight plan.
In the middle of the diagram was I saw the main body of a bird, and where the eyes are situated – at the top of the body – were where words like prophesy, vision and compassion were written. It is important to know where we are going – to know the direction that God wants us to us. This part of the body is no more important or no less important that any other part. The body of a bird needs wings to fly, the wings need a body to be attached to. Everything that had been written was of equal importance and was need to make the bird to fly. I also saw the prayer and intercession as the tail, the feathers that will direct our flight.
The bird I saw was not a bird of prey but like a raven that brought meat and bread to Elijah. God’s heart is to bring life and salvation to the people of Thurrock. Up to now the bird has been in existence but has been just a small that has just walked or hopped around in the each of our own church gardens. Now is the time to come together and to take off and to fly like God’s want us to – all together. Flying high, soaring on his Holy Spirit to fly around Thurrock to bring life. Flying high will allow us to see things that we have not previously seen and allow us to see things how God see them. We will have a limited view when we stay on the ground God wants us to fly together and take us to new heights which we know are there – but we have never been to before. God sees our heart and will do this.
Thoughts from this
Colin Baker said this reminded him of the egg-caterpillar-chrysalis-butterfly analogy brought to the borough in 2009 by Nigel Sykes (Warwick Business School). “The goal of any winged creature is to fly,” said Colin.
Tim Harrold stressed the “inevitability of the process”, that “God WILL perfect his Body, his Church, his Bride, who will have a seamless wedding dress – not a patchwork one.”
led by Rob Groves, as we all knelt
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
We then spoke about different projects taking place across the church of Thurrock:
- Rock Thurrock – Colin Baker
- Unite 30/31 – Steve Morris
- Youth Services (ongoing developments) + Alpha + Relationship Central information evening on 12 July 7.30pm Grays Methodists – Andy Blakey
- Alpha (in early 2012) – Rob Groves
- Faithworks (30 June) – Russell Godward
- GDOP/Pentecost Sunday united event 12 June or some other time – David Bareham
- ‘Olympification’ and London 2012 and possible visit of David Linley of More Than Gold – Tim Harrold
Unity and Maturity in the Body of Christ
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, ?he took many captives ?and gave gifts to his people.”
(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Bob Love (Stifford Parish), Colin Baker (Grays Baptists), David Bareham (CHCC), Steve Morris (CHCC), Andy Higgs (Stifford Parish), Andy Blakey (TCF Grays), John Freeman (TCF Corringham), Maggie Watts (Grays Methodists), Tim Harrold (church-in-the-house), Russell Godward (TCF Corringham), Rob Groves (Fresh Hope Community)
Photos (top to bottom):
- Colin, Andy H., Maggie
- David and Colin
- Rob and flip chart
- The Diagram
- Andy B. and John
- ‘What’s the Big Dream?’
>>> We hope to follow this up by maybe doing the same exercise one evening with those leaders unavailable in the day.
>>> The next Thurrock Leaders Day is on Thursday 6 October – venue TBC.